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US, UK form coalition to share technical foundation for space operations

Stephen Kuper

The US Space Force reached an important milestone by recently signing an agreement to allow sharing of the Standardised Astrodynamics Algorithm Library with the Ministry of Defence of the UK.

US, UK form coalition to share technical foundation for space operations
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The UK was the first international partner to join US Space Command’s Operation OLYMPIC DEFENDER and is the first to receive access to the SAAL, though USSF is currently working with other partner nations to expand that list. 

Operation OLYMPIC DEFENDER is a key multinational effort intended to optimise space operations, improve mission assurance, enhance resilience, and synchronise US efforts with its allies.

The synchronisation and sharing of capabilities under OOD enhances allied space-faring nations’ ability to see the space environment with clarity, navigate with accuracy, and streamline multinational operations across the globe.

Recently, as part of a larger effort to improve space domain awareness, the Secretary of the Air Force’s International Affairs Office, USSPACECOM and USSF recognised a framework allowing OOD coalition partners to receive the SAAL. This collaboration is part of a continuing effort to enable integrated operations with OOD partners.

Major General DeAnna Burt, USSF director of Operations and Communications explained, "Aggressive actions in space must be deterred through a multinational, co-ordinated effort, allowing for the defense and protection or our collective capabilities."

The USSF-owned SAAL is the technical foundation for mission systems utilised in US space operations centres. The SAAL library is USSF’s investment in the study of orbital physics and algorithms to help predict the locations and trajectories of satellites and objects in orbit.

"Sharing the SAAL with our coalition partners enables greater co-operation and co-ordination between the US and our allies," Maj Gen Burt explained. 

Providing the UK with access to the SAAL allows the partner nations to better collaborate in the space domain.

The SAAL will increase the ability of the UK’s Space Operations Centre to collaborate with the USSF and will provide the best available algorithms to interpret, predict and integrate data that the 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base is already sharing with the UK’s Ministry of Defence. 

Former Rear Admiral Marcus Hitchcock, who recently retired after serving as USSPACECOM Director of Strategy, Plans and Policy, said, "Today’s partnerships are vital in the contested space environment and strengthen our shared national space security requirements and complicate potential adversary decision making."

In addition to OOD and the SAAL, data sharing agreements also demonstrate the growing importance of safety and security in the space domain to all responsible, space-faring nations.

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